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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Despite the pregame hype, NFL Championship game doesn’t deliver

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In a business generally controlled by the large market franchises, score one for a small community, one that has a love affair with its team that cannot be equaled by any other fan base.

Seeded sixth and on the road throughout the NFC playoffs, the Green Bay Packers defied both the odds and conventional wisdom as they toppled the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25, in a game that came up woefully short of the hype bestowed upon it for the last two weeks.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was named the game’s MVP as he continued his masterful playoff march by completing 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns. In the process, he completely exorcised the ever-present ghost of Brett Favre once and for all and established himself as one of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks.

Green Bay opened the scoring as Pittsburgh sputtered out of the gate, allowing Rodgers to take advantage of soft pass coverage and find wide receiver Jordy Nelson for a touchdown.

The Packers would stretch it to 14-0 when Nick Collins picked off an errant Ben Roethlisberger pass and returned it for a touchdown, thereby officially serving notice to the Steelers that they were in big trouble.

Pittsburgh would manage a field goal to cut the margin to 14-3, but Green Bay would again strike, this time on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Greg Jennings, to make it 21-3. The Steelers would again pick themselves off the mat and manufacture a drive that produced an 8-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Hines Ward just before the half to reduce the lead to 21-10.

The third quarter would prove to be a scoreless one for the Packers and when Pittsburgh’s Rashard Mendenhall strutted (virtually untouched) into the end zone from 8 yards out, the Steelers were more than back in business, trailing just 21-17. But Green Bay would respond with Rodgers again finding Jennings for another touchdown pass and what would prove to be the winning points.

The Steelers showed big time heart by putting together a drive that was capped off by a 25-yard touchdown strike to Mike Wallace, and after a two point conversion Pittsburgh trailed just 28-25. Green Bay would eat up the clock on the ensuing drive which led to a field goal, and Pittsburgh would get one last opportunity with time running out, but the Packer defense would not allow the Steeler air attack to lift off one more time and the Lombardi trophy was secured for a joyous trip back to Wisconsin.

Danny Bridges, who still feels the best Super Bowl commercials are always the ones that predominantly feature dogs, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or at Bridgeshd@aol.com.

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